We love wedding photos that capture the day, but we ESPECIALLY love wedding photos that tell a story. And if you’re looking for a photographer to tell your story, Jerome Pollos is your guy. When you look at his photos, you are put right in the moment. You can feel how excited the bride is when she’s getting ready to say “I do,” you share in the post-wedding celebrations on the dance floor. Not only is he great at capturing your big day, he’s got a fascinating story behind how he got started, his passion for wedding photography, and how he goes the extra mile to make sure your wedding day is preserved for years to come.
How did you get started as a wedding photographer?
I never had any interest in photography.
To say I came into my career in photography in an unorthodox manner is an understatement.
I wasn’t a photography nerd in high school. I didn’t have some revelation about being artistic at any point in my youth.
My first career choice was to be a radio DJ. In fact, I joined the Navy to be a radio DJ. I was going to be on some exotic island, enjoying beaches and spinning records. But life has an interesting way of being redirected.
Everything changed for me when a tearful mom unfolded an old newspaper and said she wanted to get a better copy.
The reason for the request? Her 10-year-old son had recently passed away after a long battle with leukemia and the image on the front page of the paper was him, bald from rounds of chemo, with a bird on his head and smile that would melt your heart. That was the last picture taken of him smiling … looking carefree like any other young boy.
They wanted the new copy to frame and place in his little brother’s bedroom so he’d always remember his big brother being happy and smiling down on him.
What changed my life from this experience was that was my image. An image from my very first newspaper assignment. I remember taking it and felt the whole assignment was taking away from my dream of being a DJ.
Two things passed through my mind when this happened:
- I was a self-absorbed idiot
- The power of photography and that tangible element is real and is meaningful. It’s a visual documentation that we are here. We experience life, love, receive love, accomplish great feats, endure, and are a part of history within our family and communities.
After that experience, I immersed myself into photojournalism. I studied, job shadowed, worked my butt off telling the stories of people who I was lucky enough to get an inside look of their lives.
I’ve focused the photojournalism experience from all the assignments I’ve covered into telling stories of the people who won’t have their images highlighted inside a newspaper or magazine.
This is why I do what I do. It’s also why my home has images hanging from every wall to highlight who my daughters were growing up, and who they are now. I want to always remember the 20th anniversary trip with my wife, and see myself and my girls acting goofy together. These moments are fleeting and the memories quickly fade without the images to remind us.
Through portraits and weddings, I’ve devoted a big part of my life to telling stories with my images. And I take that responsibility very seriously. Because I want you to have that tangible element that will tell your story to your children, and grandchildren, and their children. I want a family member to walk down a hallway decades from now and point to a picture and ask about that moment captured in time.
Of all the types of photography out there why wedding photography?
Because I’ve been a storyteller my entire professional career. Working for newspapers, magazines and agencies allowed me to work on amazing projects that gave me behind the scenes access to the big news events as well as the small, intimate moments between families. But it wasn’t always like that. When I first started shooting weddings on the weekends while I worked at a daily newspaper, it wasn’t ideal. I was trying to be a wedding photographer.
And then one day while I was complaining to a friend who was an accomplished photojournalist and wedding photographer on the East Coast, he said, “Why are you trying to be a wedding photographer? Just be a photojournalist covering a wedding.”
Ever since then I’ve taken the same approach to weddings as I did those photo stories I loved to shoot — look for moments, find telling images that create a story, shoot the adjectives and adverbs, not nouns and verbs. And it’s not all about the bride and groom. They are a huge part of it for sure, but there’s a reason they invited all these people to their wedding. There is a special bond and relationship to each and every one of these people. So capturing those moments from the interactions of family and friends has just as much impact and is the glue that holds a visual story together.
I like to joke with people and tell them I’m basically a paid wedding crasher. I love the behind the scenes access, being surrounded by a lot of happy people, a good slice of cake, and a fun party.
What’s the biggest issue that couples run into with their wedding photos?
I did some surveys of past clients. And while a lot of them made sure they had physical display products from their wedding photography, about 40 percent didn’t have anything bigger than a single 8×10. On top of that, I have a few clients every year who contact me that their flash drive they received two or three years ago won’t open, or the images wouldn’t open. People forget that digital doesn’t mean forever. There are specific ways of archiving your images so you can access them years down the road. But if you don’t have the time, finances or knowledge to have a triple-redudant archiving system, you end up losing access to your files.
So what’s the solution to this digital dilemma?
I want to make sure my couples have something they can hold, flip through, bring with them and show off. I want a mom to be able to pull out her wedding album on and she helps plan for her daughter’s wedding day and share those moments. For my past client who have wedding albums, they become a center piece on their coffee tables. Friends and family thumb through the pages and point to people they haven’t seen since the wedding. Or maybe the relatives that have passed on and talk about the moments captured in those images.
That’s why I made the decision that every collection includes a custom designed, handcrafted wedding album. It pains me to think about those clients who spent so much money on their wedding, not to mention the thousands of dollars for photography, and simply have a few social media files online and a flash drive in a drawer somewhere. That’s why I tell couples, “Don’t let the biggest day of your life become the most expensive flash drive you own.”